The desktop versions (Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC) are not free, and you can only get them by purchasing one of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plans (see below). There is a trial version, but it only works for a short time.
With the Lightroom mobile app for iOS and Android, it’s a little more complicated. This app is free to download and install, and you can use it to capture, organise and share photos on your device without an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
However, if you want to get the full range of editing tools, the ability to synchronise images with the desktop versions of Lightroom and a range of other benefits, you will need to subscribe to one of Adobe’s Photography Plans (below).
What the Lightroom free version of the app can and can’t do
This information comes from the Adobe Lightroom for Mobile FAQ:
- You can use all the capture, organization, and sharing features in Lightroom for mobile for free, and most of the editing features are available too
Requires Photography Plan
- Lightroom for mobile can capture RAW files on your device as well as JPEGs, but if you want to edit these RAW files you’ll need a Photography Plan subscription
- Lightroom for mobile also has selective adjustment tools, but you only get access to these when you subscribe to a Plan
- You’ll also need a Photography Plan subscription to sync images with Lightroom on a desktop computer
- Adobe offers other free mobile apps, including Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Fix, Adobe Spark Page, Adobe Spark Video, and more, but you’ll need a Photography Plan subscription to access your Lightroom photos with these
- If you have desktop version of Lightroom on a perpetual licence, you’re out of luck – it will not sync with Lightroom for mobile
Is it worth upgrading to a Photography Plan?
Adobe is clearly using Lightroom for mobile as a bit of a teaser to get people to subscribe to a Photography Plan. There’s nothing sinister about this; it’s something most software companies do. And the fact is, the ‘free’ features are worth having on their own.
But it’s also worth considering subscribing to a Photography Plan anyway. Many people object in principle to subscription software, but the Adobe’s Photography Plans are a pretty good deal. Depending on which one you go for, you get the following benefits:
- Lightroom for mobile with all features enabled
- Lightroom CC for desktop
- Lightroom Classic CC for desktop (depending on the plan)
- Photoshop CC (depending on the plan)
- 1TB cloud storage for your photos (depending on the plan)
Which Adobe Photography Plan is best?
Photography Plan (20GB)
The best choice for most photographers will be the Photography Plan, which includes Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC, Lightroom for mobile and web and 20GB of storage – though if you want to use Lightroom CC and its cloud storage, you’ll really need one of the 1TB plans.
Photography Plan (1TB)
If you decide you want the best of both worlds, it’s going to cost more. With this plan you get Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, Lightroom for mobile and web, Photoshop CC, Adobe Spark with premium features, Adobe Portfolio and 1TB of cloud storage (you can upgrade this later).
Lightroom Plan (1TB)
This looks a good deal at the same price as the regular Photography Plan but there’s a sting in the tail – you get Lightroom CC, Lightroom for mobile and web, Adobe Spark with premium features, Adobe Portfolio and 1TB cloud storage, but you do not get Photoshop or Lightroom Classic.
Click on the links below to find out more about the different subscription plans on the Adobe US and Adobe UK websites, download a trial version or sign up for a subscription.